Dan Sandison, Mundial
Football magazine Mundial was an early, surprise, victim of Covid, announcing a digital future back in early 2020. They’ve recently surprised us again with a series of reprints of old issues, and then by announcing a full return to print with a new issue.
Editor and founder Dan Sandison talks us through the background to the shift as he describes his influences and working week.
What are you up to this Monday morning?
I’m at my desk in Soho drinking a coffee from Flat White on Berwick Street (it’s the best one, don’t write in), and putting together my first long and chaotic to-do list of the week. I have a three notebook system that everyone else here seems to hate.
Mundial has recently been acquired by FootballCo, which means a few things have changed, one being that our office is on Dean Street. When I first moved to London about ten years ago, the first pub I went to was The Crown & Two Chairmen, and I can see it out of the office window now. I think the phases of your life can neatly be demarced by the pubs you drink in, so I like the symmetry of it.
The Mundial team: Seb White, Dan, James Lamon, Owen Blackhurst
Describe your desk and your work space.
I’m messy. The aforementioned three notebook system means there’s always screwed up bits of paper around, a bottle of water that I forget to start drinking until about 3pm, a laptop, glasses, someone else’s phone charger that I have borrowed and forgotten to give back, and at the moment there’s a book about swimming… so that I look windswept and interesting.
During lockdown I tried all the tricks to make working from home better and more aesthetically pleasing, the desk organisation, the second screen, a job lot of pens from Muji. Waste of time, all of it, give me a messy desk and the complex politics of a tea brewing rota any day.
Which magazine do you first remember?
It was probably Match or Shoot, if I am being completely honest, but I always used to really love Liverpool match programmes. I’d read them front to back, even all the completely crap bits. There was a phase in the late 90s where they tried to make them into these big, glossy, high-end things.
Cover shoots that weren’t from a match, odd lifestyle features where someone like David James would go to an art gallery. It’s probably this where the idea of Mundial came from initially. Me wanting to know what Stig Inge Bjornebye liked to watch at the cinema.
Who was the first footballer to make an impression on you?
Steve McManamanan. He was a big, lanky Scouser with curly red hair, and it was love at first sight. Meant to be. I used to try and run like him, wore my socks low like him, and started colouring in the stripes on my adidas boots when he did. He left Liverpool under a cloud, and people see him as a bit of a figure of fun now that he’s on BT Sport, but I still love him unconditionally.
Liverpool will always mean home to me. I’m from just down the road, but childhood trips into the city meant football or family. I’ve lived away for quite a long time now, but going back for football with my dad, my grandad, or my sister, always reminds me of those first games when I was a kid.
Watching players like McManaman and Fowler, who were from the city, just seemed to mean something extra, and although it’s a rare phenomenon now I still think that’s so important for the club and the fans. If you can see something of yourself on the pitch, how good is that?
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
I’m getting a bit set in my ways, as I get older. I used to buy tons of different mags, and have three or four on the go at once. I don’t really do that any more. Courier is one that I read most regularly, I used to buy Monocle and read 20% of it, Courier is a cover-to-cover every time. I’ll always buy Riposte, Apartamento, and Record if I see them.
I love the content of all three, it’s unfussy, modern, and unpretentious, but there’s also something about that bit-too-big-for-your-pocket size that I really like.
Describe Mundial in three words.
We. Are. Back.
Last time we heard from you the mag was closing, now you’re back (hurrah) but what’s the story?
The story is a long one, but probably one that is familiar to a lot of people. Covid was the great unknown for us. We survived it, a bit battered and bruised but probably more agile and up for the challenge than ever. We had a variety of plans to come back, in various forms, and then FootballCo called.
We’d had quite a few offers from weird and wonderful organisations to buy us out over the years, and we’d pretty consistently turned them down. This felt different though, they were publishers and football people. We got on.
Fast forward six months and we are working on a magazine for the first time in about three years, we have social content going out every day, and we have lots and lots of exciting collaborative projects on the horizon. It’s been a long time in the making, and we are all made up to be back.
What’s different about the new issue?
There are a few changes. Maybe 5-10% less impenetrable in-jokes, but we’ll be playing the hits as well. What being part of a bigger company has allowed us to do is to get back to doing what we think we do best, without the fear of resource, time, and money being eaten up by other projects.
There’s a Women’s Euros section with our colleagues at Indivisa, an extremely Mundial cover story about Paolo Maldini, I went to visit Scotland’s oldest football club, we have Calum from Caricom telling us about his new book, and Seb has gone and looked at a load of old goalie gloves. More of the same, some exciting new stuff, lots more actual football.
What can a football print magazine deliver that the intense online football coverage can’t?
You can read Mundial and not know who is first in the Premier League. Which is particularly appealing to me at the moment. We can create timeless content for an audience who want it enough that they’ll pay for it.
Talking of which, are Liverpool going to win the Premiership?
I don’t want to talk about it. Not on a Monday.
Please share one piece of advice for somebody wanting to launch their own publication.
Ask people questions. Be annoying. See if the people you admire want to go for a coffee or a beer, and ask them what you want to know. Go to events. Tweet them. Email them. Unless it’s me. If you want to speak to me, email Seb.
What are you most looking forward to this coming week?
Playing football this evening in Walthamstow.
The new issue of Mundial will be published at the end of June.